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Natural Laundry Solutions for Sensitive Skin.

Updated: Jun 14

Laundry is one of those mundane tasks that we don't usually think much about until we have to. But for those dealing with eczema or other skin sensitivities, the ingredients in laundry detergent are often a significant trigger even in brands that claim otherwise.

Eczema is an inflammatory condition that can cause chronic or periodic flares of dry and itchy skin. While many doctors focus on prescribing creams and medications to manage this symptom, it's important to consider the role that environmental factors such as cleaning products can play in triggering or exacerbating sensitive skin. I believe that a holistic, multi-factorial approach is key to managing or resolving skin challenges.

Our skin is our largest organ, and it's important to be mindful of what we put on or near it. Even if you're a fan of sleeping in the nude, you're still lying on sheets that have been laundered, which can leave residue on your skin adding to the cumulative toxin load your liver must process. Since most of us are in close proximity to laundered materials pretty much 24/7, it's a valuable discussion to have.

Our Experience.

When my daughter first developed eczema, none of the doctors we saw with mentioned anything about identifying or managing triggers - only steroid creams. It was only after I noticed her eczema was flaring where her clothes sat against her skin that I began to suspect that laundry detergent may be a culprit.

So I did what so many of us have done. I toddled to the supermarket to very confidently switch to a very popular eco-friendly ultra sensitive laundry product as it was surely the best. As an aspiring holistic mama reading the label, I felt this brand would care for me, my baby and every single thing on the planet. I trusted it would be the safest choice because the label said so. Not only did her eczema slightly worsen but my husband and I suddenly both developed dry and itchy skin in our elbow and leg creases. I knew I had to consider any recent changes and was as surprised as anyone when I realised it was the laundry detergent. So I researched the topic, switched to something way better, our skin reverted to normal and we never looked back.

Since then I've worked with thousands of families and have observed over and over that the sensitive eco-friendly supermarket detergents can trigger eczema just as much, if not more, than the conventional types so I put together this article to help you navigate this topic and shop smarter.

Going {Genuinely} Natural.

I'm glad you're rethinking laundry. Choosing a detergent free from harsh chemicals and fragrances is a good first step toward creating a supportive home environment.

We want to know that what we’re purchasing isn’t going to make us sick, irritate our skin or harm the planet - and we want it to actually clean and not cost a million bucks. Easy? Not always.

Defining something as non-toxic is difficult because not only is toxicity is related to quantity, and even natural agents such as baking soda and essential oils are irritating to some. It's okay to be skeptical of claims as it's very easy for products to create the impression they're safer than they really are, preventing us from rationally assessing the connection when symptoms persist. Supermarket laundry products often contain ingredients that can irritate your skin and are often extremely alkaline.

Going natural often means laundry a little differently though as natural products tend to be less strong which is good for our skin and liver - but not always great for stains.

  • Pre soak to dramatically improve results.

  • If you've been using chemical products for a while, do a hot wash with a little vinegar to help clean your machine, and minimise existing residue.

  • Try not to overload your machine - good water flow and agitation helps a lot.

  • While you can add a few drops of a safe essential oils for scent, limit at first as these are super concentrated natural extracts that can contribute.

  • Choose the right cycle.

  • Choose natural fibres wherever possible such as cotton, bamboo, silk and hemp.

  • Use oxygen bleach for brighter whites and colours.

  • Wash in 60°C | 140°F hot water to remove dust mites, pet dander and pollen.

  • Just as there is no single topical product that will help everyone with eczema, it's the same with laundry solutions so find what you like, and what likes you back.

Make the Switch.

As with any new product, it's always a good idea to patch test a small area of clothing or fabric to ensure that the detergent does not cause any adverse reactions before using it on your entire laundry load.

I do recommend moving away from supermarket choices however if you have no choice, try washing soda crystals. They are versatile, cheap, easily dissolved and low allergy however may not shift stubborn stains on their own.


1 cup washing soda

1/2 cup borax

1/4 cup sodium percarbonate

1/2 cup liquid castile soap

2-3 drops of essential oil (optional) - I like lemon.

In a mixing bowl, combine washing soda, borax, and sodium percarbonate. Stir well to combine. Add liquid castile soap to the bowl and mix until the ingredients form a paste.

If desired, add 2-3 drops of your favorite essential oil. Store in an airtight container.

Add 2-3 tablespoons to each load of laundry, depending on the size of the load and level of soiling. This recipe can be used for both front-loading and top-loading machines.


Popular due to being a sustainable, biodegradable and natural resource that grows wild - the dried fruit produces saponin (soap). Extremely gentle, it's perfect for little and sensitive ones but are also fiddly and not really that effective at cleaning. Buy Soap Nuts

Buy Soap Nut Liquid


One of my absolute faves, Molly's Suds was created after a mum was inspired to create safer choices following the loss of her daughter who was stillborn. It is because it is a non-toxic, eco-friendly, and effective detergent that is gentle on clothes and skin. Overall, Molly's Suds is a safe, reliable, and sustainable option for anyone looking for a high-quality laundry product that cares.

Laundry Powder - Unscented

Oxygen Whitener with Lemon

Allsport Activewear Detergent


Such an incredible laundry product. Made from castile soap, washing soda and baking soda. there is enough in one bag for 33 washes. Use only 1 tbsp per wish with no chemical residue and can be used in cold water and front loaders.

Buy Green Goddess


A gentle but effective laundry and stain remover bar enhanced with sodium sesquicarbonate for the ultimate cleaning power. The fragrance free non-irritating formula is suitable for clothing, period underwear, cloth pads and nappies. It also works on many stains - including blood, dirt and grease. Cruelty free.

Buy Period Stain Remover Powder

Buy Laundry Bar and Stain Remover (Fragrance Free)


Zum Laundry Soap (Sea Salt) this is the one I normally buy and it lasts ages

Figgy & Co incredible New Zealand based range Bleach Alternative Pods Got eczema? See more of my eczema resources here as well as information on how you can work with me 1:1 to support your skin and gut health.

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